OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Dunjee School is named for Roscoe Dunjee.
It’s on the outskirts of the east side of Oklahoma City, somewhat obscure and forgotten now, but the memory of the man cannot be forgotten.
Because his commitment, character and acts of courage still enrich many lives even today.
“He was born in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to an ex-slave” says Larry O’Dell with the Oklahoma Historical Society. “His father, John Dungy, who worked as a Baptist preacher and moved the family to Oklahoma to help organize the Baptist church here with inside the black community. The interesting about Roscoe is he didn’t start his Black Dispatch, which was Oklahoma City’s only black newspaper, until he was 32 years old.”
And with the Black Dispatch newspaper, started in 1915, Roscoe Dunjee made his voice heard loud and clear.
When other newspapers called the burning of Tulsa’s black wall street a riot or race war the Black Dispatch accurately called it murder, as we now know it as a massacre.
Dunjee became a civil rights leader, including fighting for equal schools as heard in this early News Channel 4 news film.
“Douglas High School is a sham and a fake” says Dunjee . “It looks pretty and from that standpoint it is perhaps the best school in town with its air-cooled principal’s office, but the guts of thing is what I’m talking about. Negro children cannot get the same type of education there they can secure at central high”.
“He always fought to make sure Oklahoma City’s residents, African American residents, not only tried to get fair treatment, but also worked behind the scenes in the business community, too” says O’Dell. “He was always pushing black businesses and thought that was an aspect of achieving what the community could achieve.”
Dunjee published the Black Dispatch newspaper for decades.
Even a young Ralph Ellison worked for the paper for a while.
The paper is no more, and Dunjee passed away in 1965.
But it’s on the shoulders of brave activists like Roscoe Dunjee and his contemporaries that today’s civil rights leaders are standing.